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I'm running a 3.5 D&D game where the king is dying of some sort of illness or curse, and was looking to see if there is anything RAW that could slowly kill someone who has access to the impressive curative potential of a 13th level cleric. I could always hand wave things and say it's a mystical incurable curse, but I'd prefer something that exists in the system if possible.

Specific requirements:

  • Must not be something that someone with access to 7th level divine spells can cure.

  • Must be something that would eventually prove fatal. Anywhere from 5-50 years from start to end would be good, with the longer end of the spectrum being ideal.

  • A curse or disease that only needs to be started and continues on its own would be ideal, but if there's a poison or something similar that could be re-administered covertly bypassing detect poison and the like, that could work as well.

  • Bonus points if its the sort of thing that would be hard to identify the cause of.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Anywhere from 5-50 years from start to end would be good, with the longer end of the spectrum being ideal." - aging? \$\endgroup\$ – John Dvorak Jul 24 '18 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JohnDvorak The king in question is slated to die around 50 years old. By RAW, humans don't need to worry about death by old age until 72 or later. But if there's a supernatural thing that accellerates aging and fits the parameters above, that'd work just fine for my purposes \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Jul 24 '18 at 17:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think more information about the agents who are responsible for this is important. I mean, if this is literally a case of divine intervention, then by the rules mortal magic can’t do jack about it—but an answer assuming divine intervention seems like rather a lot. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 24 '18 at 17:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I'm at a stage where I can be flexible about the source, but would prefer it be something that could be inflicted by one or more mortal individuals. \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Jul 24 '18 at 17:19
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Greater Bestow Curse, Spell Compendium (pg. 27).

It isn't listed on the normal effects of the spell but it says "You can also invent your own curse, but it should be no more powerful than those described above, and the Dungeon Master has the final say on the curse's effect."

Killing someone in a span of 50 years is something I believe is weaker than the other effects of the spell. Best of all, "A greater curse cannot be dispelled, nor can it can be removed with break enchantment or limited wish. A miracle or wish spell removes a greater curse, as does remove curse cast by a spellcaster of at least 17th level."

Must not be something that someone with access to 7th level divine spells can cure.

Check.

Must be something that would eventually prove fatal. Anywhere from 5-50 years from start to end would be good, with the longer end of the spectrum being ideal.

I believe so then I'll check this too.

A curse or disease that only needs to be started and continues on its own would be ideal, but if there's a poison or something similar that could be re-administered covertly bypassing detect poison and the like, that could work as well.

Duration: Permanent

Check

Bonus points if its the sort of thing that would be hard to identify the cause of.

I don't think so since is a touch spell, but even so, because it is a spell it is identifiable somehow. I'm not sure but I think this one is a miss.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This should do the trick. Looking deeper into the spell, Book of Vile Darkness lists pushing someone to their next age category as something viable for regular bestow curse, so aging 2-3 years/year would almost certainly be reasonable for the greater version. Even the RAW "set ability score to 1" for CON could feasibly have the same effect, since anything that does a single point of CON would be a death sentence, and even raise dead/resurrection would eventually stop working. \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Jul 24 '18 at 18:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't a spellcaster of 13th level be able to cast Miracle or Wish from a scroll? \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jul 24 '18 at 18:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. They'd have a decent chance of success, but given that the cleric in question is the high priest of the country and therefore probably the highest level divine caster around, it isn't a stretch to say that there might not be any 8th-9th level scrolls available \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Jul 24 '18 at 18:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StephenTG: Possible indeed. I was just wondering about it as, well, it is a spell. I suspect that at some point the Cleric will try to understand what's going on, and any spell can be identified with a sufficiently buffed up Spellcraft check. A couple years seems like enough for a competent Cleric to get his hands on a scroll, especially when he's got the full power of a realm at his back. Adventurers are pretty cheap, compared to the life of a King, and unless there's no existing 8th-9th level magic at all, one is bound to turn up with the right scroll, for the right reward. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jul 24 '18 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ The listed effects of greater bestow curse are reducing ability scores (but no lower than 1), applying a large penalty on various rolls, or causing the target to have a chance of not doing anything on any given turn. All extremely debilitating, but none of them fatal in and of themselves. Extending it out as a damage-over-time effect might justify something that can be lethal, but the rules don’t cover it and it’s purely up to the DM: that’s little better, to my mind, than just hand-waving as the querent doesn’t wish to do. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 24 '18 at 19:02
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Corrupt the cleric and have the cleric poison him. This may involve replacing him with a simulacra or doppelgänger, holding family hostage (a la Dune), or simply bribing him. When he tells everyone it’s an incurable disease, they’ll believe him because he’s a thirteenth level cleric, who would know.

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